A call from the lady who might be termed my common law mother-in-law this morning, Audrey, who is aware of my aversion to listening to the news in the morning, and therefore acts as an occasional voluntary media monitoring service.
She often calls to tell me what people have said about me, always delighting in delivering mild expletives about critics, and warm words of support for supporters. She is as tribal as they come.
There were two stories she thought I might find interesting this morning, both of which she had heard on LBC. The first concerned David Cameron, who wants to be Prime Minister. The second concerned Clarke Carlisle, who wants Burnley to beat Portsmouth on Saturday, because he is our centre back.
He was in the news however, for something very different, namely his triumph yesterday when he fulfilled a lifelong ambition by being a contestant on Countdown.
Audrey is not yet on Twitter – give it time – so was unaware that I had tweeted about Clarke’s win yesterday. Then having seen the volume of traffic on Twitter about him, and all the texts I got, I thought I should take a look to see if he was as good as everyone was saying. He was. Not just good with the numbers and even better with the words, but polite and charming, and everything Premier League footballers are reckoned not to be.
When I was on Alan Titchmarsh’s programme recently, amid the John Terry/Ashley Cole fandangoes, I tried to mount a defence of footballers, saying that they were not all bad and the majority were actually decent characters who just happened to be good at football during the era it became a global multi-billion dollar sport.
The ‘thick footballer’ image is fairly well out there. But Clarke has gone a fair way to correcting it. I texted him last night to say that ‘Burnley player wins Countdown’ was running as the seventh most viewed story on the BBC website, ahead of the Westminster bubble’s latest mini frenzy about GB and Alistair Darling. As was obvious on the programme yesterday, he was a proud and happy man. Equally happy will be Channel 4 who will doubtless have a boost in ratings as Clarke defends his title today.
As for the Cameron story which tickled Audrey’s fancy, it was the revelation that he was a bit of a dunce when he was at Heatherdown prep school in his pre-Eton days. Bottom in Latin and Maths. Second bottom in Geography and French. Worst overall performer in his class by the year-end.
The poor Maths performance obviously explains why he and George cannot come up with an economic policy that withstands more than two minutes scrutiny. His woeful record on Geography and French is perhaps the reason why he has devised a policy on Europe that would take us to the exit door of the European Union. And bottom in Latin? … no wonder he is so jealous of Boris.
Anyway, Audrey thought I would be tickled by the thought that Burnley players are cleverer than the man who would be PM. I kind of knew it of Clarke anyway, but it is good to have it confirmed.
*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise money for Labour (yesterday’s Electoral Commission report underlined once more the uphill battle against the Tories’ spending power) http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
No surprise to me about CC on countdown. I am on a weekly football podcast (Chappers Premier League p/cast) which has guests every week and Clarke Carlisle was one of the most erudite, intelligent and charming guests we’ve ever had on the show.
Can’t comment on the Cameron comments (unlikely to ever get him on the show anyway)
Well done to the footie chap however I would advise him to find a better agent….
As for “call me Dave” he is not alone in the under performing stakes I think Churchill was a dissappointment to his father when school reports landed on the mat.
Sometimes the lack of computing power of the brain is compensated by a belief in ones destiny.
I do not see much of Churchill in Dave, more the Richard Madely type likable and epxresses signs of clear thinking without much substance or resolve.
Did you notice Jeff Stelling’s crack about dodgy dossiers. Clarke kep focused like a good defender should. AGree he was charming. And bright!
You can choose one of these three things. And one only AC … so what’s it to be? Burnley stay up. Labour stay in power. Clarke sets a new record for Countdown wins. Come on now be honest…
John Major had 1 O-level I think. Cameron did go on to get a first class degree. I agree it is a shame he has not used it to come up with first class policies, but I think he has come on since his prep school days. (How naff does ‘prep school’ sound these days?
Ps, I went to one. My kids don’t.
@AC “She is as tribal as they come.”
You give her a run for her money…….!
I hate to be picky (he lied again) but I think it’ll be C4 that gets the ratings boost – call yourself a man of the people?! Clearly not a man of the old people who watch daytime telly…
Being bad at sums is perfectly acceptable in upper class Britain – many toffs enjoy braying about their innumeracy.
Amongst many interesting things in the BBC’s “A History of the World in 100 Objects” series have been revelations about the importance of maths and of bureaucrats to successful civilisations through the aeons. Messages that Call Me Dave & his chums perhaps won’t want to hear…
I once had the pleasure of meeting Clarke Carlisle in a well know Japanese Bar in Poland Street. There my mate and I were enjoying the karaoke when I was tapped on the shoulder.
“Ask him a question” the chap asked
“Ask him a question he’s Britain’s brainiest footballer”
We then spent the next few hours drinking and asking him anything we could think of (of which he answered most or all correct) before my mate, Clarke, his mate and girlfriend went off to some swanky London bar. I went back to my hotel room, as I had an early meeting the next day.
Nice fella is Mr Carlisle, always looked out for him, football career wise, ever since!
Sorry Alastair but this just takes the biscuit, unlike your usual work.
I mean, he got a first at Oxford. That’s pretty tough going.
People who do badly in school are often driven to succeed later in life. Cameron appears to be one of them – here’s hoping this doesn’t drive him all the way to the top…
I know Oxford is not a proper university but Cameron did at least get a first class honours degree.
Keep up the great work AC!!!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha
I think Clarke C is the sort of role model football needs, showing how a footballer can conduct their life reasonably (bright, sorted out his previous problems, articulate) as opposed to the Cole & Terry ego-monsters who cheat on their wives and flaunt their wealth and status. Give me CC and his values anyday.
Without wishing to pre-empt any comments you may be preparing on the horrific treatment of Khyra Ishaq in Handsworth, Birmingham, which resulted in her death I would like to make an observation about how we see Tories (and LD’s in support) running Birmingham.
Our local quality paper The Birmingham Post does the Labour Party few favours. Yet repeatedly it seems to be asking: “Where’s the (Conservative Group) leader?”
And now this dreadfully sad case. The officials are put out there to face the flak.
Footballers like Clarke Carlisle are on the pitch every game putting their reputations on the line and fighting their corner.
Labour ministers get grilled – see – Ed Balls was out there today.
And we see the true-blue Birmingham Post highly critical of the local Conservative political leadership in Birmingham for hiding behind its local government officers whenever there is the chance of some tough questioning from the press.
I noticed my friend, Mr Theo Paphitis, breaking through the 5,000 FaceBook friends milestone and queried how FaceBook had let him do that, exactly
A challenge that had stumped Mr Prescott with 4,989 friends and yourself with 4,949 friends
Today, Lady Claudia who works in Mr Paphitis’ office claims the only way they were able to break through the 5,000 friends plus milestone was for some of Mr Paphitis’ friends to de-activate and then to re-activate their own accounts
(Sneaky, I thought. But better than “warehousing” over one thousand-plus AC FaceBook applicants, because you fear the coming of the “numbers cut-off point” on the horizon)
That way, Theo temporarily brought the total of his FB friends way below the 5,000 mark. They then squeezed in new friends at that stage, the only time they would’ve been able to exceed the limit set on FaceBook numbers
Just wondered, considering how smoothly your son Rory set up your online bookshop, if he might also be a budding “Dragon’s Den” guru in IT, and could help his Dad handle the puzzling FaceBook friends/fans/supporters conundrum for you. Hope you’ve both got it solved – or soon will have